Parent – one of the most emotionally evocative words ever!
When I mention ‘parenting’ and more specifically ‘your experience of parenting in the area you live’ what pops into your mind? It doesn’t need to be a fully formed idea or even sentence. It doesn’t even need to make sense right now. The words that pop into your mind are a wonderful starting point for exploring your stories around parenting and being parented.
I’ve been working on a project collecting stories from parents in a specific suburban area. We have a very small number of participants (six) and yet the diversity and depth of reactions to the research question never ceases to amaze me. My work means I have the opportunity to immerse myself in intense conversations with people from all walks of life and I have the privilege of listening to their unique perspectives on things like parenting. As a parent myself it has given me the gift of reflecting on my own parenting beliefs and how they came to be. One thing is clear – it’s a mixed bag for all of us!
Themes that emerged from the initial question above included (but not limited to) hopefulness, pressure, distress, concern, transformation, guilt, exhaustion, joy and support.
Parenting is such an powerful topic for reflection practices and storytelling projects because each of us has our own unique experience in being parented. We each have made our own meanings around how we will respond to that experience as parents (or even in the decision to not become a parent). The meanings (and judgements) we make around parenting, whether it be about our own or someone else’s, is infused with stories we have learned since infancy through cultural traditions, time and place. Then there are events that happen along the way.
If you are co-parenting then you will also be engaging with someone else’s experiences and beliefs around parenting – just to add to the mix.
One thing is certain – parenting is a complex, extremely personal and highly emotive subject that cuts through to our core values. It also covers so many areas in our life – food, health, nurturing, guidance, rules, physical contact, money, where we live, education, the list goes on and on.
Have you reflected on your ideas around parenting, where they come from and whether or not those long-held views are still working for you now?
Have you reflected on how many aspects of your life decisions can be traced back to your experiences and meaning making around parenting?
If you are struggling with parenting or your experiences linked with your parents,
please reach out and seek support that is ready and waiting to help….